A year ago, the hot hatchback segment barely existed in the United States, and now we have three four-door examples of the genre: the new Dodge Caliber SRT4, the Volkswagen GTI, and the Mazdaspeed 3. The VW and the Mazda are based on really good cars - the Rabbit and the Mazda 3. Unfortunately, the basic Dodge Caliber is saddled with a coarse engine, cheap-looking interior plastics, and a poorly tuned suspension. Chrysler's in-house performance division, SRT, certainly had its work cut out for it to convert the subpar Caliber into a competitive player.
Horsepower compensates for a lot of sins, however, so SRT gave the Caliber the best power rating in the category and installed the beefy front brake calipers from the 4100-pound Dodge Charger R/T. An aggressive body kit is nicely matched to five-spoke, nineteen-inch wheels. At $22,995, the price is right, too.
High horsepower is nice and all - the 285-hp Caliber SRT4 is very fast, and Dodge says it will top out at 155 mph and hit 60 mph in about six seconds - but sending all those horses through the front wheels results in frustrating torque steer, even at high speeds.... Read full article